Shropshire

MBE for West Africa school charity founder

Ruth Walmsley Image copyright Ruth Walmsley
Image caption Ruth Walmsley said she was "quite shocked" about the honour

A woman who founded a charity that helped a school in danger of closing in West Africa has been appointed an MBE.

Ruth Walmsley, 73, of Telford, said she had been fundraising for Conakry Refugee School in Guinea since 2004 after a daughter helping out there stated it could not pay rent.

She added it now had 500 pupils after dipping to about 300 at one stage.

Mrs Walmsley said she was "quite shocked" to have been honoured.

She said: "I was completely flabbergasted... I just thought I was doing what needed to be done and just putting my energies into something that I thought was very important."

Mrs Walmsley said one of her daughters, Tanya, was travelling in West Africa and turned up to help the school containing refugees from civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The mother sent £60 "to keep the school open for a month," she said.

Other friends gave £60 for the next two months and following more fundraising, Friends of Conakry Refugee School later became a registered charity, Mrs Walmsley said.

When numbers dropped from about 400 to 300, as some children in the area were in jobs rather than being at school, it started a free school meals programme and numbers rose to about 500, she said.

Mrs Walmsley, who has been honoured with an MBE for services to children in Conakry, is now a trustee of the charity, after being director for 10 years.

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